The eternal city of Rome, constructed of ruins and in whose name the Caesars sought to claim the world, opens for the visitor like a living museum. The centuries peel back with each new vista in this great city of gladiators, lunatic drivers and sumptuous pasta dishes. Vespas, nippy little Fiats and red sports cars speed past trendy sidewalk bistros and nightclubs, revealing the Rome of Fellini's La Dolce Vita; while the chillingly stark facades of the Stadio Olimpico complex bring back Mussolini's attempts to reinvent the architecture of the Caesars.
For a taste of the Baroque, visitors need only climb the famous Spanish Steps, walk through the Piazza Navona or toss a coin into the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Renaissance splendour is perhaps best revealed in the Pope's residence, the Vatican Palace, or in Michelangelo's efforts on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. From early Christian Basilicas to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the sequence of history trails back to the height of the Roman Empire.
It may sound like a city of contrasts, but Rome's timeless magic lies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Empires have risen and fallen, old gods have been replaced with new ones, but Rome remains.
The historic centre of Rome is compact and manageable on foot, and most of it is closed to normal traffic. Driving in Rome is an experience to be avoided, so if arriving by car, it's best to park it and use public transport to get around. The network of buses, trams, metro and trains covers the whole city from 5.30am to midnight (the metro until 11.30pm), and night buses take over until about 5am, covering the main routes. The metro only has two lines, but is the easiest and fastest way to get around, and is convenient for several attractions. The bus service is cheap and reliable, albeit slow due to traffic congestion. Tickets cover all forms of transport and must be pre-purchased and validated at the start of every journey; there are daily tickets valid for unlimited rides, or standard tickets valid for one metro ride or 75 minutes on buses. Taxis are notoriously expensive and display a list of surcharges. They are also difficult to find on the streets or even at taxi stands, and are best ordered by the hotel concierge or at restaurants. Note that the meter gets switched on immediately so the time it takes to arrive is added to the bill. If hailing one on the street, use only the official yellow-and-white taxis, make sure the meter is on, and have small change handy. The 110 Open is a bus service that stops at all the city's main sights, departing from Termini Station square every 20 minutes.
ATP Masters Series: Rome
Many tennis fans consider the Rome Masters to be the second most prestigious clay court tennis tournament in the world, after the French Open. The ATP Masters Series consists of nine tennis tournaments that are held annually in Europe and North America and sees the world's top tennis players competing for the title of world number one.
RomaEuropa is Rome's annual international cultural event, that features theatre, dance and music concerts and performances. Although the focus is on Classical music, the festival is famous for the diversity of its various performers.
Birth of Rome Celebrations
Every year, the birth of Rome is celebrated with numerous events taking place at notable venues around the city, including the Roman Forum and Campidoglio. Celebrations include a fireworks display over the Tiber River, parades, gladiator shows and traditional banquets. Tel. +39 06 5160 7951.
The annual event takes runners on a scenic tour of Rome, passing some of the most famous monuments like the Colosseum and St Peter's Basilica. The Marathon Village sets up a week in advance with concerts, stalls and shows for all to enjoy.
Separated from central Rome by the Tiber River, Trastevere is a picturesque medieval neighbourhood characterised by a quirky Bohemian atmosphere. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with overhanging flower boxes and washing lines and are home to numerous cafes, boutiques, pubs and restaurants. The area has long attracted artists, famous people and expats, and is a charming place to explore, having escaped the grand developments of central Rome.
Capitoline Hill was the original capitol of Ancient Rome and continues to serve as the seat of the city's government. The main feature of the area is Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, a testimony to the superiority of Renaissance town planning. The piazza is bordered by three palaces: the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the twin structures of the Palazzo dei Senatori and Palazzo Nuovo, which house the Musei Capitolini, containing the largest collection of Classical statues in the world. Among the notable statues found here are the Dying Gaul and the Satyr, the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus and the Spinario. Paths cut along the side of the hill from the Campidoglio giving way to panoramic views of the ancient sites of the Forum and Colosseum.
Roman Forum (Foro Romano)
The site of Ancient Rome's commercial, political and religious centre rests in the valley between the Capitoline and Palatine hills. The Forum's main thoroughfare, Via Sacra, slices through the old market square and former civic centre. To make sense of the ruins and relics of the old Republic, it is helpful to consult a map of the area. Some of the best-preserved and most notable monuments include the impressive Arch of Septimus Severus -a construction designed to celebrate Roman victory over the Parthinians - and the former atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins, and the Temple of Vesta. Also of note are the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and the Arch of Titus, built to celebrate Titus' destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To the right of the arch are stairs snaking up the Palatine Hill, through a series of terraces to the Farnese gardens. The scented avenue, festooned with roses and orange trees, gives way to a magnificent vista over the Forum.
This enduring symbol of ancient Rome tenaciously clings to its foundations as the site of former gladiatorial conquests. Its architecture boasts an impressive array of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns and an underground network of cells, corridors, ramps and elevators that were used to transport animals from their cages to the arena. The magnificence of the original structure has been eroded through the years by pillaging and earthquakes so that only a skeletal framework remains; however, the sense of history the Colosseum is still able to evoke is truly awe-inspiring.
The stately Pantheon is one of the world's most inspiring architectural designs. Fittingly built as a temple to the Gods by Hadrian in 120 AD, its perfectly proportioned floating dome rests seductively on sturdy marble columns. The only light source flowing through the central oculus was used by the Romans to measure time (with the aid of a sundial) and the dates of equinoxes and solstices. The south transept houses the Carafa Chapel and the tomb of Fra Angelico rests under the left side of the altar.
The Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna
The graceful Spanish Steps, built in 1725, elegantly curve their way from the Piazza di Spagna to the Church of Santa Trinit dei Monti, a pastel-tinted neoclassical building. The shopper's paradise of Via Condotti leads back from the Spanish steps to Via del Corso, and during spring the steps are decorated with pink azaleas. At the foot of the steps lies Bernini's boat-shaped Barcaccia Fountain, and to the right is the unassuming Keats-Shelley Memorial House.
Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
The tiny Piazza di Trevi has been immortalised through this fountain, built for Pope Clement XII. Arguably the most famous and most beautiful fountain in all of Rome, the statues adorning this watery display represent Abundance, Agrippa, Salubrity, the Virgin and Neptune guided by two Tritons. Tossing a coin into the fountain (over your shoulder, with your back turned to the water) is supposed to guarantee a return trip to Rome.
St Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
The Basilica lies above the reputed site of St. Peter's tomb. It is an overwhelming interior, containing notable sculptures including Michelangelo's Pieta, which is protected by bullet-proof glass since the damaging attack on it in 1972. In the central aisle stands Arnolfo da Cambio's bronze statue of St Peter, its foot worn down by the constant flow of pilgrims' kisses. Proudly resting above the papal altar is Bernini's Throne of St Peter. The Vatican Grottoes, containing papal tombs, can be reached by steps from the statue of St Longinus. The Necropolis is located one level below the grottoes. This is the legendary site of St Peter's tomb and advance permission has to be obtained to view it. A strict dress code is in place for the Basilica and no shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts are allowed (for men and women).
The Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
The Sistine Chapel's famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo looms above the frescoes on the side walls, painted by an illustrious team of artists that included Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Roselli, Pinturicchio, Signorelli and della Gatta. The altar wall is covered by Michelangelo's Last Supper, revealing the figure of Christ hovering above centre and flanked by Mary and other saintly figures. The Vatican Museums provide an inspiring visit to one of the world's greatest collections of art. The galleries stretch over four miles (6km), and include the magnificent Raphael rooms, the Etruscan Museum and the Pio-Clementino Museum, which boasts the world's largest collection of Classical statues.
Time Elevator Rome
Time Elevator Rome is an interactive movie theatre featuring panoramic screens, flight simulators and surround-sound. This modern technology offers kids the opportunity to be enthralled by a cinematic, 5-D journey back through 2750 years of Roman history. A popular tourist attraction for kids, we advise that you take them here first, to whet their appetites for seeing the 'actual' wonders of Rome through the course of your holiday in Italy together.
Basilica di San Giovanni
The Basilica of St John Lateran was built in the 4th century by Constantine the Great and was the first church built in Rome. It is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, and as such ranks above all other Roman Catholic churches, even St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, and it is here that he celebrates Mass on certain religious holidays. The building has suffered much damage in the past and has been rebuilt several times, leaving only fragmented parts of the original church. The present building is characterised by its 18th-century faÃ§ade and contains several important relics, a 13th-century cloister and an ancient baptistery. Inside are numerous statues, paintings, the High Altar that can only be used by the Pope, and a cedar table that is said to be the one used by Christ at the Last Supper. Across the street is one of the holiest sites in Christendom that is visited by pilgrims from around the world: the Palace of the Holy Steps, believed to be the 28 marble steps originally at Pontius Pilate's villa in Jerusalem that Christ climbed the day he was brought before Pilate. They have been in Rome since 1589.
Unusual Rome for Kids
Unusual Rome offers fun, tailor-made tours and activities for children, planned and presented according to their age and interests. With options ranging from visiting the popular sites of Ancient Rome to modern museums and shows, as well as taking part in cultural and outdoor activities, kids in Rome certainly won't be bored!
Villa Doria Pamphili Park
Villa Doria Pamphili is a wonderful park to take children to while on holiday in Rome. The park's playground, skating rink and soccer fields will keep kids happy (and very active!) for hours, and the pony rides around Villa Doria Pamphili are also great fun.
Looney's Indoor Entertainment Centre is a great place for kids to hang out, featuring costumed characters and entertaining shows, as well as fun play areas. While the centre offers recreation for children as old as 14, there are also play groups for toddlers and their mothers to enjoy together. A wonderful treat for the kids after a hard day spent sightseeing with their folks in Rome.
There are many theatres throughout Rome staging excellent puppet shows (in English) that will keep the kids amused. Well-known venues include the Pulcinella Puppet Theatre, an open-air theatre on Gianicolo Hill; and the Teatro delle Marionette degli Accettella, on Via Genocchi. The Teatro San Carlino is a puppet theatre in Borghese Gardens, while Teatro Verde is located in Circonvallazione Gianicolense.
Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte - a medieval hill-town located in the province of L'Aquila, about 100 miles (160km) northeast of Rome - is bracing itself to become one of Italy's fastest-growing tourist destinations. The beautiful little town, accessed through five stone gates and full of narrow, winding alleyways and gorgeous Renaissance architecture, shot to prominence when it was chosen as the setting for the 2010 film The Americanstarring George Clooney. Castel del Monte is not one of those places that are filled with interesting sights or things to do - rather, the entire town is a tourist attraction in itself, giving visitors a taste of authentic Italian village-life. Boasting a population of around 500 people, a holiday in Castel del Monte is not for everyone (and is probably a terrible place to take the kids) - but for those looking to escape the crowds of tourists that swarm to Italy's more established holiday destinations, serene and photogenic Castel del Monte offers the chance to do just that.
La Terrazza dell'Eden
Cuisine style: Italian
Michelin-starred La Terrazza serves some of the city's finest cuisine, along with sweeping views over the Seven Hills of Rome and Michelangelo's dome of St Peter's. Executive Chef Adriano Cavagnini is dynamic and creative, having worked at Harrod's and cooking for the Al Fayed family, as well as for members of the British government. A seasonally changing menu includes modern Italian cuisine, fresh seafood dishes and creative flavours of the Mediterranean that are light and delicious. Reservations essential. Open for lunch and dinner daily.
Address: Hotel Eden, Via Ludovisi 49 (Via Veneto)
Cuisine style: Seafood
Possibly the best seafood restaurant in Rome, the cuisine at La Rosetta is world-class. A selection of marinated seafood appetizers, such as squid with ginger and French beans, is the best way to appreciate the flavours, followed by one of the superb pasta dishes dressed with fish or seafood. The menu includes almost every type of Mediterranean fish, grilled or roasted to perfection, and desserts such as the ricotta cheesecake with honey are worth saving space for. Reservations essential. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday.
Address: Via della Rosetta 8 (Piazza Navona)
Cuisine style: Mediterranean
This sophisticated rooftop restaurant boasts a spectacular view of the city below, and has an elegant setting with candlelit tables and impeccable service. Many Roman food critics claim it is the best restaurant in the city, which is attested to by a list of regulars that includes Prince Rainier of Monaco, Bruce Springsteen and Glen Close. Food is the very best of Mediterranean haute cuisine and each dish is a work of art in presentation and taste. A sundowner at the chic cocktail bar is a fine way to start the evening. Reservations essential. Closed Sunday and Monday. Dinner only.
Address: Hilton Hotel, Via Cadlolo 101, San Pietro
Cuisine style: Seafood
This is one of Rome's best fish restaurants and the original owner chef Alberto Ciarla made it a priority to find the freshest fish for the Ã la carte menu and the six tasting menus available. Near the entrance is a lavish display of seafood on ice. Original dishes include a variety of seafood pastas and fried, grilled or roasted fish from the Mediterranean, and the trademark sea bass fillet prepared in various special ways. Although chef Ciarla no longer works at the restaurant it is still worth a visit for some of the best fish in Rome. Closed Sunday. Dinner only. Reservations required.
Address: Piazza San Cosimato 40, Trastevere
Agata e Romeo
Cuisine style: Italian
For a gourmet treat, this charming restaurant is elegant yet relaxed, run by a husband and wife team who produce outstanding Roman 'nouvelle cuisine', exceptional desserts and a fabulously stocked wine cellar. Roman specialities include broccoli pasta in skate broth, a gourmet version of a traditional vegetable soup, or sheep's cheese flan with a dried fig sauce. An Agata e Romeo taster menu allows one to sample a variety of specialities, and includes wine. Closed weekends. Reservations recommended.
Address: Via Carlo Alberto 45 (Termini)
Ai Tre Scalini
Cuisine style: Italian
Small, unpretentious and serving top-quality Roman cuisine, Ai Tre Scalini is one of the nicest restaurants in the area close to the Colosseum. The small menu is a gourmet experience, from the cheeses and salamis to porchetta, complemented by the wide variety of wines on offer. Reservations required. Closed Mondays. Open from 6pm.
Cuisine style: Vegetarian
Arancia Blu offers Rome's best vegetarian fare in a trendy, friendly atmosphere. Individual dietary needs are catered for as staff assist in redesigning menu suggestions to suit everybody's tastes. The dishes are inspired by country Italian cuisines and include things like potato and mint ravioli, or eggplant parmigiana in a pastry crust. There is an excellent dessert menu and extensive wine list. Open for dinner daily, the tea room and bars open from 5.00pm to 7.00pm, dinner starts at 8.00pm. Also open for lunch on weekends. Reservations recommended. Credit cards are not accepted.
Address: Via Prenestina
Cuisine style: Italian
This tiny pizzeria is immensely popular and one of the best for the distinctive thin and crispy-based Roman pizza. The service is quick and the food delicious, including starters like crostini topped with anchovies, cheese and ham. Closed Wednesday. No lunch weekends.
Address: Via del Leoncino 28 (Piazza di Spagna)
Rome Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport
Location: The airport is 19 miles (30km) south-west of central Rome.
Contacts: Telephone: +39 06 65 951 or +39 06 6595 4554.
Time Zone: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in September).
Departure tax: None.
Transfer between terminals: Fiumicino Airport has four passenger terminals - 1, 2, 3 and 5. Terminal 1 handles Alitalia flights and Schengen flights, Terminals 2 and 3 handle domestic flights, Non-Schengen and Schengen flights, while Terminal 5 handles American and Israeli flights. A free shuttle bus operates between them and the car parks every 15 minutes or so.
Facilities: Money and communications: ATMs and currency exchange throughout the terminals. Luggage: Baggage wrapping facilities at all terminals. Conference and business: Head for the ATA Hotel Executive Centre in Area B, after security, for your business needs. Other facilities: Travel agents, pharmacies, massage parlours, photo booth (Terminal 3). Terminal 1 has a beauty parlour, hairdresser and solarium, as well as slot machines and laundry facilities. Wi-fi: The airport has free wi-fi, and Exactta internet kiosks throughout the terminals. Information: There are information desks in each terminals, as well as several touch-screen information kiosks dotted throughout the airport. Shopping: There's lots of shopping to be had at Fiumicino Airport, from high-end branded fashion (Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Gucci, HermÃ©s - the list is endless) to Italian wines, leather goods, jewellery and accessories, and foods. There are also the usual travel stores, bookstores and newsagent dotted throughout. If you've got cash burning a hole in your pocket, you won't for long! Food and Drink: Rome being the cafÃ© culture capital that it is, you won't be disappointed by the excellent selection of coffee shops and delis in the airport, especially in Terminals 1 and 2. For sit down meals, there are the usual fast food joints (such as McDonald's) and a few decent sit-down restaurants.
Parking: There is a wide range of parking options available at Fiumicino Airport. Rates range from EUR3 for the one-hour spaces in front of the terminal to a variety of options within the multilevel parking garages and the long-term lots. All parking options are connected to the terminals either via walkways or shuttle buses.
Transfer to the city: Train: The train station is across the road from Terminal 3, near car park D. There are two trains to the city. The Leonardo Express travels directly to Roma Termini, the station in the city centre, every half hour from 6:30am to 11:30pm for EUR14. Buy a ticket at the ticketing counter in the station and then validate it at one of the machines (the ticket will then be valid for an hour and a half). A cheaper option is the slightly slower Metro line FR1, which runs to major stations (Tiburtina, Tuscolana, Ostiense and Trastevere) every 15 minutes, or every half hour on Sundays and holidays, and costs EUR8. Bus: Cotral buses leave from Roma Tiburtina railway station and stop at Piazza dei Cinquecento in front of the national museum. A one-way ticket to town will cost EUR4.50 if you buy it from the ticket machine in the arrivals section or at newsagents or tobacconists in the airport, and EUR7 if you buy it on the bus.
Car rental: The car rental desks are in the multi-storey car park lots C and B, directly in front of the terminal and connected via passenger walkways. Simply follow the signs from the arrivals area. There are several major companies represented, including Hertz, Avis, Sixt and Budget, as well as a few local operators.
Giovan Battista Pastine Airport
Location: The airport is situated nine miles (15km) southeast of Rome.
Contacts: +39 06 7934 8521 or +39 06 7949 4234.
Time Zone: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in September).
Departure tax: Departure tax is included in the price of your ticket.
Transfer between terminals: Not applicable - Ciampino Airport has only one terminal building, though you will take a shuttle from your plane to the arrivals area.
Facilities: Money and communications: A bank (Banco di Roma), located in the departures area, and numerous ATMs and bureaux de change scattered throughout the terminal building. Luggage: A lost and found office is located at the information desk in the arrivals area. Conference and business: Facilities are available, in the form of a VIP lounge with a snackbar and private boarding/disembarkation gates. Other facilities: Other facilities at Ciampino Airport include nursery and medical facilities; a passenger assistance and customer service desk; tour operators and travel agencies; and full access and comprehensive facilities for disabled passengers (the airport is renowned for its convenience for disabled passengers). Wi-Fi facilities: Not currently available. Information: There is a wonderfully helpful Info Point Comune di Roma, located in the baggage reclaim area of the arrivals hall, where you can get all the Rome-related tourist information you'll ever need (including maps and brochures). The Info Point is open daily, from 9am to 6.30pm. Shopping: Rome's Ciampino Airport boasts a good selection of shops, all located in the departures area of the terminal building. Check out Alpha Accessories, Just Design and Tutto a EUR12 for fashion and travel-related accessories; the Samsonite store for luggage; Sasch and Saldarini for clothing; and Good Buy Roma, the airport's duty-free shop, selling the usual array of alcohol, perfume, tobacco and jewellery products. Food and Drink: You won't go hungry at Ciampino Airport - but don't expect to feast on one last unforgettable Italian meal, either. Food options are functional, as opposed to gourmet, with Chef Express (one in the arrivals section, one in the departures) serving good sandwiches and light meals; a Mr Panino, selling pizza slices and gelatos; and Onama, also selling fast food and snacks. There are numerous cafes dotted around, selling good coffee.
Parking: Both short- and long-term parking is available at Ciampino Airport. The first 15 minutes are free, thereafter various charges are levied.
Transfer to the city: Airport taxis: As has been mentioned, taxi fares from Ciampino Airport into the centre of Rome (defined as the area within the Aurelian walls) can be prohibitively expensive. To combat this problem, the airport has set up an official taxi stand, located opposite the arrivals hall. Here, taxis operate on a fixed rate of EUR30 per cab, good for a maximum of four passengers and their baggage. However, be warned that it is only the cab drivers who are officially licensed by the city of Rome that are obliged to offer you the fixed rate - if they're not around, and you have to use someone else, the fare will be more like EUR50. The trip should take 25 minutes - but in traffic, it'll be closer to an hour. Train: Buy a ticket (EUR1) in the arrivals hall for a COTRAL/SCHIAFFINI bus to Ciampino CittÃ , the nearest train station to the airport. Buses leave every 30 minutes, and only take 5 minutes to reach the station. From there, you can buy a ticket (approx. EUR2) to Termini, which you should reach in about 15 minutes. Bus: You have quite a few options available to you, should you choose to go the public bus route. Terravision offer a service between Ciampino Airport and Rome's main railway station, Termini. These buses operate from stops located just outside the departures area of the terminal building, and make trips from the airport every 15-45 minutes, between 8.40am and midnight. You can buy tickets (EUR4 one-way, EUR8 return) for Terravision buses in the arrivals hall. Sitbus also offers a service between the airport and Termini. These leave from the public bus stops, located across the road from the airport's parking area. Sitbus buses leave every 45 minutes between 8:30am and 11.45pm, with a journey time of about 45 minutes. Tickets (EUR4 one-way, EUR8 return) can be bought when boarding the bus, and there is no extra charge for luggage. These two are the best options for going to Termini. If, however, you wish to get off at another Metro station, you should take an ATTRAL bus to Anagnina Metro. The (blue) ATTRAL buses operate from the public bus stops, located across the road from the airport's parking area, and run to the metro station Anagnina (on line A), leaving every 40 minutes between 6am and 10.40pm. You can buy your ATTRAL bus tickets (EUR1.20) from the arrivals hall, and it should take 10-15 minutes to get to Anagnina. Once at Anagnina, follow the 'M' sign to find the Metro station (line A). Metro tickets can be bought from an automated machine, and cost EUR1.
Car rental: Car rentals are provided by Avis, Budget, Europcar, National, Sixt and Hertz. The rental offices are well-signed and are located near the airport's entrance. You will require an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to rent a vehicle, and all cars will feature automatic transmissions.
Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.